Gotthard Bonell, one of the most renowned and versatile artists in South Tyrol, is a painter with genuine passion and an immense creative drive. Again and again he explores the manifold possibilities of painterly expression, moving with playful ease along the fine line between figuration and abstraction. His painting and drawing techniques bear witness to the expertise of the old masters, but are also open to artistic experimentation. With his unmistakable characteristic style, Bonell creates a world that deals with the questions of art and the human condition in an intimate and emotionally touching, and yet enigmatic and disturbing way. You can also see this for yourself with the new works in the Alessandro Casciaro Art Gallery.
The starting point is the natural landscape, in particular massive mountain formations, as well as diverse body shapes and found objects. Mountains appear in atmospherically shimmering shades of light and the immediate presence of nature is palpable, even if the views deliberately refrain from offering sweeping, romantic panoramas. Closely zoomed in on, the rocks turn into an abstracted painterly gesture. Mostly, however, (natural) landscapes blur into still lifes of (decaying) bodily shapes. The figurative object takes on a life of its own, undergoes a metamorphosis and becomes a new form that is not easily grasped or described. Layers beneath the skin are exposed, skulls and fragmented skeletons appear like inner landscapes, delicate and washed out, enigmatic and pregnant with meaning. Everything is composed in muted colours, bathed in the sfumato of a soft, misty atmosphere, and the artist leaves us uncertain whether the motifs are disintegrating or perhaps reassembling themselves. Drawing and painting meet in dialogue, but also in confrontation; sometimes collage elements are more frequently in evidence, tissue paper is glued in fine layers to the wooden panel and shaped artistically. Much evolves during the working process, the artist lets himself be carried along, guided by what comes into being, by the lines and the structures that emerge. Drawing, wiping away, pasting over and back to painting.
Memento mori, all existence is finite. Or transforms itself, morphs into another form of existence. “Nothing is permanent”, says Paul Ernst, “everything dissolves and regenerates”. The tangible body is no longer so important to Bonell; he has found new ways of visualising the constraints and the decay of the body, the finite nature of existence. Metamorphosis and transience, old age and death: soft colours reminiscent of autumn, washed-out, dissolving forms that symbolise the process of decomposition of all things earthly. Wonderful in-between worlds full of sensuality and beauty.